The team finished first among 35 collegiate teams at the University Rover Challenge (URC), held June 1-3 at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. The event is sponsored by the Mars Society. The URC is designed to demonstrate the fundamentals of remote robotic travel and task completion. The Utah desert is used for the annual competition because it resembles the rocky terrain of Mars.
The Mars Society announced S&T’s victory in a tweet on Saturday, June 2.
We have a winner! Mars Rover Design Team from Missouri S&T with 403.4 pts! pic.twitter.com/1cKMPlOx2q
— URC (@URConMars) June 4, 2017
The Missouri S&T team competed against teams from around the world. Countries represented include Bangladesh, Canada, India, Poland and Turkey in addition to the United States.
At the three-day event, teams attempted to complete four challenges:
- An astronaut assistance task, which requires teams to use the rover to collect lost tools left in the field and deliver them to multiple locations.
- The equipment servicing challenge, which requires the rover to repair a mock equipment system. Tasks could include turning valves, pushing buttons and reading pressure gauges.
- The sample return, which requires the rover to collect soil samples at selected sites in the field and use onboard instrumentation to perform a basic scientific evaluation to determine geological significance or determine the likelihood of biological life.
- The autonomous travel challenge, in which rovers maneuver themselves through a variety of difficult terrains based on a given set of GPS coordinates. Obstacles can include soft sand, rough stones, rock and boulder fields, vertical drops, and steep slopes.
Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover, named Gryphon, was designed and built by the students. The team developed custom circuitry for the rover, machined the aluminum and carbon-fiber support structure, developed durable wheels for terrain mobility, and 3-D printed gears used in the rover.
Next stop: Maker Faire Kansas City
The Mars Rover Design Team is one of 18 student-run teams in Missouri S&T’s Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC). The SDELC, housed in the Kummer Student Design Center, provides teams with computer design laboratories, a manufacturing shop, office space and logistical support. Design teams mirror small start-up companies that plan large-scale projects, organize into departments, raise funds, communicate their ideas and solve open-ended design challenges. Almost every team competes annually at an event against other collegiate teams from around the country and the world.